GENERAL TOPOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGY OF CALIFORNIA.*
features of central California, as demonstrated by the explorations of
the State Geological Survey, are found to be exceedingly simple. Four
equidistant parallel lines can be used in conveying a general idea of
the physical geography of the State.
The Three great Belts of California.—A " main axial line," whose course would be N. 310
W., passing through the culminating peaks of the Sierra Nevada for a
distance of nearly five hundred miles, can be assumed as the eastern
boundary of the gold region. A second parallel, drawn fifty miles west
of the " main axial line," will skirt the west base of the Sierra
Nevada, along the edge of the foot-hills, from Red Bluff to Visalia. A
third parallel, run equi-distant from the second, will follow very
closely the eastern edge of the Coast Ranges from the neighborhood of
Clear Lake to that of Kern Lake, a distance of over three hundred
miles. A fourth equi-distant parallel will represent, as nearly as
possible, the coast line of the Pacific, the western base of the Coast
Ranges. These parallels divide the central portion of the State
between Red Bluff (about lat. 400 N.) and Fort Tejon (about lat. 350 N.) into three belts—viz., the Sierra, the Great Valley of California, and the Coast Ranges.
arrangement of the physical features holds good for a length of four
hundred miles in the direction of the " main axial line." This division
of California is the largest and by far the most important, embracing
See vol. i., "Geological Survey of California," and Whitney's
"Auriferous Gravels of the Sierra Nevada of California," which are the
principal authorities for this chapter.